Kenneth Choi has two high-profile films in the hopper. He portrays Jim Morita, one of the Howling Commandos in the action film "Captain America: The First Avenger." He also has finished shooting the remake of "Red Dawn." A resident of Los Angeles, the 39-year-old actor talks about some of his favorite places and explains why he wants to revisit a destination that conjures up bad memories.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: I traveled to Belize last year and had an amazing vacation. I divided my time between two cities, Placencia and San Pedro. Belize has a tropical climate, and is quite affordable and is developing a reputation as an inexpensive Hawaii. If you want to hide away someplace that is extremely low-key, Placencia is perfect. San Pedro is more touristy and modernized.
Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A: Portland is the perfect weekend getaway. I studied acting in Portland and lived there for five years. It's a small city with so much to do. There's beautiful scenery, a great bar scene and so many fabulous restaurants. Andina (andina
restaurant.com), Beast (beastpdx.com) and Paley's Place (paleysplace.net) are some favorite eateries. If you visit, check out Washington Park and its Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. Hit Powell's bookstore. And you must get a Spanish Coffee at Huber's (hubers.com).
Q: What are your favorite hotels?
A: I've worked in Vancouver (British Columbia) on a couple of television shows and films. I always stay at the Sutton Place Hotel (vancouver.suttonplace.com/default.htm), where most out-of-town actors stay. In Portland, I like to stay at the Hotel Monaco (monaco-portland.com), which is a Kimpton Hotel.
Q: What are your five favorite cities?
A: I was living in London for four months last year while shooting "Captain America." I love that city. I spent a week in Paris with a great friend who is French and speaks English — thank goodness — and I fell in love with the City of Light, as most people do. Chicago is my hometown and will always have a special place in my heart. Portland is definitely in my top five. Gotta include Vegas!
Q: What are your favorite restaurants?
A. A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant (aocwinebar.com) in Los Angeles has a menu of delicious small dishes and a great wine list. Leila's Restaurant (leilasrestaurant.com/_/Home.html) in Oak Park, Calif., is about 30 minutes away from Hollywood. Zagat restaurant guide awarded Leila's "Most worth the drive." Now I know why.
Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been?
A: I'd like to visit my friend and his family who live in Australia. That trip is long overdue. I have friends from Spain who have invited me at least five times. It's ridiculous that I have not gone. A friend of mine co-owns Mango African Safaris out of Portland; that's definitely on my list.
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: Earplugs, an eye pillow and a hat.
For more from the reporter, visit jaehakim.com.